Week 12 Music Notes

by

Thanks to everyone who provided us with a song for this final CD. As I said yesterday, I hope each of you will add a comment to this post and tell us all a bit about why you picked the song and what it means to you.

With that in mind, I’ll only write about my own personal contribution and the three songs I tacked on to fill up the disc.

Chimes of Freedom is the third song on side one of Another Side of Bob Dylan, which came out in 1964, the year I turned sixteen. I had a little portable stereo then with a detachable speaker on each side of a turntable. I’d come home, put the speakers on my bed, lie down and put one speaker against each ear. That’s how I listened to this album.

I was a pretty screwed up kid (that’s another study group!) and when Dylan sang this song I truly believed he sang it directly to me. I’m still not convinced I was wrong. I know those chimes of freedom were tolling for me. Here’s the end of the song:

Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

When Bob Dylan first arrived in New York, way back in January of 1961, someone told him to go to the Cafe Wha? down in Greenwich Village and ask for Fred Neil. Dylan’s first paying gigs in New York were playing harmonica behind Fred Neil for the tourists who came through the cafe during the afternoon. Neil is best known for writing Everybody’s Talking, heard in the movie Midnight Cowboy (sung in the movie by Harry Nilsson), but by this time (around 1969) he had already retired to Coconut Grove, Florida. He lived in Coconut Grove as something of a recluse, working on the Dolphin Project, which he described as “an organization dedicated to stopping the capture, trafficking and exploitation of dolphins worldwide.” Blues on the Ceiling is from his 1965 album Bleecker and McDougal.

Tim Hardin’s story is, as Jeff said yesterday, “a sad, sad, story.” Hardin fought a long battle with heroin – he died (at 39) in 1980 of a methadone overdose but stopped working and writing well before that. He’s best known for If I Were a Carpenter, which has been covered by, among many others, Led Zeppelin, Joan Baez, and Leonard Nimoy. Both Black Sheep Boy and Carpenter appear on Tim Hardin 2. Hearing him sing his best songs almost feels like an invasion of privacy – both lyrics and performance are so nakedly personal.

We’ll see just a little bit of Richard and Mimi Farina in the second half of Festival next week. Theirs is a sad story, too. Richard Farina was a songwriter, novelist, musician and character. Mimi was Joan Baez’s younger sister and she married Richard in 1963, when she was 17 and Richard 26. They recorded two innovative and influential Vanguard LPs and Richard wrote a well-reviewed novel, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me, published in 1966. Richard was killed in a motorcycle crash on the way home from a book signing event, on Mimi’s 21st birthday. Their story is well told in David Hajdu’s recent book Positively 4th Street: The Life and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina. The CD song is Pack Up Your Sorrows, co-written by Richard Farina and Pauline Marden, Joan and Mimi’s older sister, from their first LP, Celebrations for a Grey Day. The video below, from Pete Seeger’s old Rainbow Quest show, features Richard Farina’s dulcimer playing. Dulcimer player and maker Jerry Rockwell said Farina “changed the possibilities of the instrument forever.” Please enjoy the music.

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4 Responses to “Week 12 Music Notes”

  1. Bob Kinerk Says:

    I picked the Ray Charles and Willie Nelson collaboration Seven Spanish Angels, first because I liked it, and second because it seemed to bring together the strands of ballad, country-western and the blues we have been studying. I am also in awe of the wonderful economy of its verses and the baroque splendor of its chorus.

  2. Judy Uhl Says:

    I contributed the song “When I Go” by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer. This was their first album, released ten years ago. Dave Carter is an exceptional songwriter and musician, and the harmony of these two along with the instruments is terrific. This is another musician who was lost to us way too early. In 2002 (I think), he came back from a run and ocmplained of chest pains. shortly afterward he had a massive heart attack and literally died in Tracy’s arms. He was just shy of 50. think of that when you read these words (chords are for Dan and George…)

    ARTIST: Dave Carter
    TITLE: When I Go
    Lyrics and Chords

    “Come, lonely hunter, chieftain and king
    I will fly like the falcon when I go
    Bear me my brother under your wing
    I will strike fell like lightning when I go

    / Am – C G / Dsus2 FG Am – / :

    I will bellow like the thunder drum, invoke the storm of war
    A twisting pillar spun of dust and blood up from the prairie floor
    I will sweep the foe before me like a gale out on the snow
    And the wind will long recount the story, reverence and glory, when I go

    / C – G – / Dm – Am – / C – G – / Dsus2 – F G Am – C G Dsus2 FG Am – /

    Spring, spirit dancer, nimble and thin
    I will leap like coyote when I go
    Tireless entrancer, lend me your skin
    I will run like the gray wolf when I go

    I will climb the rise at daybreak, I will kiss the sky at noon
    Raise my yearning voice at midnight to my mother in the moon
    I will make the lay of long defeat and draw the chorus slow
    I’ll send this message down the wire and hope that someone wise is listening when I go

    And when the sun comes, trumpets from his red house in the east
    He will find a standing stone where long I chanted my release
    He will send his morning messenger to strike the hammer blow
    And I will crumble down uncountable in showers of crimson rubies when I go

    Sigh, mournful sister, whisper and turn
    I will rattle like dry leaves when I go
    Stand in the mist where my fire used to burn
    I will camp on the night breeze when I go

    And should you glimpse my wandering form out on the borderline
    Between death and resurrection and the council of the pines
    Do not worry for my comfort, do not sorrow for me so
    All your diamond tears will rise up and adorn the sky beside me when I go.”

    In the next American folk anthology, I know that Dave Carter will be represented. And if you have a chance to catch Tracy at a coffee house, do. You won’t regret it.

  3. Dan Watt Says:

    I picked two songs by Canadian folklorist-singer-songwriter Shelley (Sheldon) Posen. Shelley has a Ph.D. in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. Being a folklorist doesn’t make someone a good song writer–but Shelley does differ from many contemporary “singer songwriters” in that he is steeped in traditional folklore as a scholar, collector and performer. Another way he differs is that he sometimes writes songs celebrating and honoring folk music.

    I picked his song “The Old Songs Home” which we will sing in class next week because I think our class has been a kind of old songs home this semester. I hope you enjoy singing it. Here’s what Shelley wrote in the liner notes of his album, also titled “The Old Songs Home”:

    “Every time I work in a folksong archive I find myself marveling at the hundreds – I guess thousands of songs that once lived and breathed and have now passed from human memory. Nothing tantalizes me more than to see at the top of an old broadside the name of a tune to which the words were sung—formerly known by everyone, now as lost as the taste of manna or the scent of Helen of Troy’s perfume. One time I fantasized that maybe, after a song is sung, its sound doesn’t dissipate and disappear but, like light, it leaves the earth and is broadcast forever through space, perhaps picked up by aliens thousands of sound years hence. Then it occurred to me that old songs might wind up in a place closer to home.”

    I also picked Shelley’s song “Fa Sol La” because it celebrates shape note singing and the people who keep it alive. The music is deliberately reminiscent of the melodies and harmonies in the Sacred Harp tradition. I think you’ll enjoy that too.

  4. Trish Hogan Says:

    I chose “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes a group out of Seattle. Recently recorded the Sacred Harp traditional music is heard…I found it on a web site somewhere…heard on NPR too. The real reason for this selection it I like it! Trish

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